Fish Oil Improves Mood
There's no question that women with PCOS suffer from more mood problems such as depression and anxiety than those without the syndrome. For some women, mood issues can be a result of dealing with all the problems PCOS brings: dramatic body image issues, fluctuations in blood sugar, loss of control over weight, difficulty managing the syndrome, infertility, and lack of support. Mood problems can also be brought on by hormone imbalances. There is some good news for the millions of women who struggle with mood problems: omega-3 fatty acids, particularly the kind that come from fish, may help manage mood.
About Fish Oil
The two main types of fish oils are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All of us need these omega-3 fats from our diets as our bodies can't make them. That's why they are referred as essential fatty acids. Fish oil is preferred to plant-based omega-3's (flaxseed, canola oil) because our bodies use them best. Women with PCOS benefit from fish oil as it has been found to be effective at improving ovulation, triglycerides, insulin resistance and inflammation. Click here to read more about fish oil's important role in PCOS.
Fish Oil's Role in Depression
The topic of omega-3 fatty acid's role in depression and mood was presented at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo last month. Here is some of the information on fish oil and depression discussed:
- Geographic areas that have a higher intake of omega-3 fats have lower rates of depression.
- Depressed individuals have been found to have depleted levels of DHA and EPA.
- Studies using fish oil show significant improvement in depression compared to placebo.
Both the presenters and the American Psychological Association recommend those with mood disorders take 1-2 grams (1,000-2,000 milligrams) per day of EPA + DHA as an adjunct treatment, to be used along with therapy and antidepressants. Government guidelines recommend eating cold-water fish twice a week, yet that amount is insufficient to reach the therapeutic amount recommended for improving mood. That's why fish oil is preferred. Despite the data, it still isn't clear if omega-3s can be used as mood stabilizers or which type of omega-3 is most beneficial. Current studies are exploring this.
How to take Fish Oil
Say the word 'fish oil' to some people and be prepared for a nasty look. Some people fear fish oil will taste like fish or maybe they tried fish oil before and got a fishy taste. If so, they probably had a poor quality brand. It is best to take fish oil with food and to take high quality brands to minimize any fishy taste. Brands with low quality fish oil can result in a fishy taste due to oxygenation. You can split up the dose during the day. In addition, enteric-coated fish oil or a liquid form can be better tolerated. Freezing fish oil can help with reflux or to avoid a fishy taste.
Overall, fish oil is well tolerated with no significant interactions. GI upset can occur with higher doses of more than 5 grams per day. It has been suggested that those taking anticoagulants or have a bleeding disorder avoid doses greater than 3 grams daily due to a possible increased risk of bleeding. It should be noted that data on over 19 studies involving cardiac patients who took 1-4 grams of EPA and DHA showed that the risk for bleeding was "virtually nonexistent".
Fish oil offers numerous benefits to women with PCOS. Women with PCOS may find that taking sufficient amounts of EPA+DHA when combined with therapy and medications, helpful to stabilize mood and improve depression.
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